Wellington’s Pacific Beer Expo is always a spring celebration of the rare and unusual.
This year organisers Beer Without Borders & Hashigo Zake have been pulling strings to get unique brews from the United States, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
Beer wrangler Steven Wells is especially chuffed with some of the offerings coming from Modern Times in San Diego. Brewer Matt Walsh is a regular visitor to New Zealand, last here for Beervana, and he’s promised to send something special – Mage Hand IPA and Neverwhere bretted IPA.
“Matt hooked us up with some amazing beer. This is stuff that would not normally go to export markets. People in the States want to get it and can’t. This will be the only place outside the US where you can try this stuff.”
Australian wild-ferment specialist La Sirene will have a high profile with three beers, including a bretted harvest ale and it’s incredible imperial praline. Founder Costa Nikias will be at the Expo, as well as hosting a dinner in Wellington on Friday 21 October. Beer Without Borders magnate Dominic Kelly says La Sirene’s most interesting brews are just becoming available now, after spending a year or more aging in bottles and barrels.
Nomad Brewing, from Sydney’s northern beaches, will also have three beers on at the Expo. It’s bringing along Long Trip saison, which took home the Champion French & Belgian Style at the Brisbane Craft Beer Awards in July. The other two offerings are a black saison and a salt & pepper gose.
New Zealand brewers are also well represented, with craft brewers from Northland (McLeods) to Oamaru (Craftwork). Garage Project has made a Pacific Stout with breadfruit, plantain and coconut, called Mutiny on the Bounty, which Steven thinks is something to do with pirates. Newcomer Beg, Borrow and Brew from Wairarapa will be at the Expo for the first time, and Lord Almighty is making turmeric beer.
Most of the Expo offerings have been brewed specifically for the festival and will not be available anywhere else.
Dominic says the Expo is trying to cover a wide range, rather than specialise in a single style. “We want people to be able to cleanse the palate after trying something really hoppy or funky or sour. When the number of beers at a festival reaches three figures there’s no way to try them all, or even find out what you should be trying. Our theory is that a selection on the low tens means people can inform each other about what they’re having and what’s good.”
“This year we asked brewers to pitch ideas at us,” Steven says. “Give us three or four ideas, so we can balance the locals around the imports.”